Mercedes CLK55 Cabriolet AMG
The Mercedes-Benz W209 cars have been produced since 2002. They are sold under the CLK-Class model names. The W209 is based on the W203 C-Class. It r...More »
Mercedes CLK55 Cabriolet AMG
The Mercedes-Benz W209 cars have been produced since 2002. They are sold under the CLK-Class model names. The W209 is based on the W203 C-Class. It replaced the C208 CLK-Class after 2004 which were the first car to carry the CLK moniker.
The W209 is available in two body styles, a coupe and a cabriolet, and with three engines available, a V6 (CLK320 in '04, CLK350 thereafter), V8 (CLK500), and supercharged V8 (CLK55). The cabriolet (Designated with an A, as in CLK500A) features a fully automatic retractable soft top covered by a metal tonneau that can be raised and lowered from outside the vehicle using the key fob.
Market position and competitors
The CLK is designed to fill the mid-luxury market position for coupes and convertibles. It is Mercedes-Benz's only 4-seat cabriolet. Its direct competitors in the cabriolet market are the Volvo C70 and the Lexus SC430, although it is available with larger engines than any of its direct competitors. The CLK is positioned midway between the BMW 3 series coupe/cabriolet and the 6 series coupe/cabriolet.
The CLK is a superlative vehicle whose handling is exceptionally precise even under extreme cornering, road, and weather conditions, and whose performance is equal to the fastest readily available sports cars on the market. Performance is electronically limited to 135mph in the CLK350 and CLK500 models, and to 155mph in the CLK55 model. The electronic limitation is felt as a point at which the car simply won't go faster, not as an artificial fuel cutoff that can cause bucking as in some vehicles.
The Electronic Stability Control (ESP) and Antilock breaking system (ABS) are both excellent aids to handling, making such feats as a 90' degree turn on a typical two lane intersection from 50mph possible using simple hard breaking and turning with no significant fishtailing. Although the ESP system can be manually turned off, it never actually allows the wheels to spin completely freely. For example, the ESP system makes drifting (intentional high-power fishtailing) impossible without shutting the ESP system off using a factory test protocol that end-users cannot enable.
Both the 5-speed ('04 and '05) and 7-speed automatic transmissions are so smooth that shifting is noticeable only unusual driving conditions. The cars have a manual sport/comfort mode switch that sets the transmission to start in 2nd gear and shift earlier in comfort mode. The new 7-speed transmission ads about 20% better fuel mileage in real driving conditions over the 5-speed with no loss in performance, although the additional shifting can be noticeable. In the CLK500, at 80mph, the 5-speed transmission runs at about 3000rpm, while the 7-speed runs at about 2200rpm. Both transmissions include automatic best gear finding so that the driver need not keep track of which gear the car is in during performance driving, and in the AMG model, the transmission can be set to stay in the highest possible gear for the best possible performance.
The 5-speed CLK500 gets an average of 15mpg in real city driving conditions, whereas the 7-speed CLK500 get an average of about 18mpg under the same conditions. Both add about 3mpg for highway driving.
The new 3.5 liter engine delivers enough performance to make the car seem basically the same along the line of motors; The earlier 320 felt like a nimble car but was not in the same class as the CLK500/55 in terms of performance. The CLK55 AMG ads considerably less additional performance than the AMG versions of other Mercedes-Benz cars, which probably accounts for its relative rarity.
Comfort and convenience
Mercedes-Benz concentrates its ergonomic design engineering efforts on subtle luxuries, such as seat-belt presenters, automatically lowering headrests when the seat is moved back so that it's in the correct position for tall drivers, and lowering the passenger side mirror to show the curb when the car is in reverse.
More obvious conveniences include automatically dimming mirrors, in-dash navigation instructions, steering wheel control of audio system, iPod, and integrated telephone system, and cornering fog lamps that illuminate the road when you turn in the same direction as the turn indicators signal.
The W209 was introduced in 2002. At introduction, it was available with a 3.2 liter engine, a 5.0 liter engine, and a 5.5 liter engine. The 2004 CLK was the last Mercedes Benz automobile to use the venerable D2B (Digital Data Bus) optical fiber media system introduced a decade earlier. The most obvious problem with this system was the clearly obsolete CD-ROM based navigation system.
The 2005 update included a new 3.5 liter 6 cylinder and the MOST (Media Oriented Serial Transport) media system used in the rest of the Mercedes Benz line, bringing along a significantly upgrade DVD based navigation system and iPod integration as optional features. The 2006 included an improved 3.5 liter 6 cylinder engine and added the steering wheel shift paddles from the AMG model to the CLK500.
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